5 Point Discussions – The Flash S4.23: “We Are The Flash”

by Sage Ashford

What will it take to bring The Thinker down once and for all? And will the team have enough time before the Enlightening to even manage it? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. As hard as I’ve been on this show for the past…12 episodes or so, this finale is actually pretty solid…if a bit anti-climactic. Once DeVoe activates the satellites necessary for the Enlightenment, he teleports away leaving our heroes despondent and wondering how much longer they have before they all have their minds “reset”. This lasts barely a few minutes before Marlize shows up, claiming she has the solution. She explains how through Cecile’s mind-reading ability and DeVoe’s Mobius Chair-lookalike, they’ll send Barry into DeVoe’s head to try and discover the good part of his mind. In doing so, they (hopefully) can convince that part of him to take control and stop the Enlightening before the satellites have powered up and bombarded the world with dark matter.
Now, I have…a few questions. For one, wouldn’t traveling into a telepath’s mind be tantamount to suicide? Wouldn’t he just know you were there instantly and shut you down with his godlike powers? For another, how would anyone know his psyche works that way?
Of course, none of this matters–DeVoe is suspiciously powered down inside his own mind so Flash actually has an advantage, and Marlize’s theory is correct and DeVoe’s psyche does work that way. But while Barry can’t find DeVoe’s good half, he does find Ralph. And after a couple run-ins with DeVoe, the two of them figure out where his good side might be. Since everything in the mind is symbolic, they find his good side within the halls of classroom, where he taught history.  Dead. Uh-oh.
At this point, it dawns on Barry the good side of DeVoe is still with them–in the form of Ralph.  Ralph’s mind is still present because DeVoe inhabits Ralph’s body, and so upon guiding Ralph to the nexus of consciousness, they can give Ralph control and kick DeVoe out of his brain. As ridiculous as this plot is, it actually works for me because they don’t find DeVoe’s good side. Why would he have one? Marlize is certain there’s good in him because she was in love, but he had this plan from before they even met–how much good could actually have been inside him?
In any case, DeVoe does his best to fight Team Flash both in his head and in real life.  Unsurprisingly, it turns out if he can stop their plan by trapping Barry in his head, he can absorb his ability to tap into the speed force, truly transforming him into a proper god…but the team outside warps around long enough for Barry to beat up the largely powerless version of DeVoe in his mind (and all his creepy, Agent Smith-like clones) and get Ralph to the Nexus, letting him take control of his own body again. All with seventeen minutes in the story to spare!
On its face there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way they wrapped it up, and aside from Marlize’s “emotional connections” speech to DeVoe as he’s losing Ralph’s body, there’s minimal cringe compared to the last 3-4 episodes. But it does run into the problem I had of DeVoe being this godlike villain for the entire season and then only losing because we’re out of runtime. Somehow DeVoe’s powers don’t work inside of his mind, and though he claims to have foreseen this exact circumstance because he wants Barry’s power, he didn’t calculate the odds of Barry just being faster than the hundreds of clones he made to stop him.

2. Mama and Papa West are my two favorite characters this episode, hands down. Cecile’s a boss, who even through labor and while suffering contractions, still manages to hold out long enough to help save the world. I said last week that she didn’t get these powers for nothing, and of course she didn’t; she’s crucial to the plan–her telepathy sends Barry into the Thinker’s head to begin with. They have to traverse pocket dimensions to avoid the Thinker and she still nearly gets killed by DeVoe once he finally catches them, but she  holds on not just long enough for Ralph to retake control of his body, but for Barry to get out of Ralph’s head.
As for Joe, since no one else is willing to, he gives Marlize the much needed dressing down she deserves. While his wife is undergoing childbirth, his adopted son is risking his life to save the world, and his best friend has lost his mind, he finally snaps and points out none of what’s happening looks “better” for humanity at all. It’s a brief moment of parental frustration, but it didn’t feel out of place and quite frankly, if Marlize had seen more of how she was going to affect the people around her, this likely wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

3. Before our heroes can get in the clear after getting Ralph back, DeVoe revives himself through Kilgore’s technology control and the use of his chair for one last back-up plan. Marlize destroys the chair’s power source, but its already too late; he’s got STAR Labs’ satellite crashing into the city and has used his gravity powers to accelerate its descent a thousand times over.
Whatever my or anyone’s problems have been with the writing and dialogue this year, this season’s been great about letting Barry really cut loose with his Flash powers, and the finale is no exception. To save the world, Barry needs to destroy the satellite, so he builds up enough speed to hit it with a version of Flash’s patented Infinite Mass punch to shatter it. Unfortunately, the force the meteor generates is likely going to be enough to kill him, but after he tries to go it alone, we get an “Instant Replay” of him attacking the satellite and learn…he’s got help. A familiar purple lightning which looks much like Iris’ back when she had super speed. I wonder if this story gets picked up for season five…

4. If there’s one major issue I have with this episode, it’s watching them let Marlize just “leave”.  Technically she does have some kind of weird space warp technology so it isn’t as if they can stop her, but…they could’ve at least tried. She’s an accomplice to several murders of at the very least the bus metahumans. She helped orchestrate DeVoe’s plan though so even if she changed her mind she’s committed literal crimes against the human race. Roughly half the team is made up of cops and former cops, you’d think someone would have heard of the term “accessory to murder”, but they don’t even attempt to take her to jail. On the contrary, they ask if she’d be willing to help them out! Jeez, are ya’ll so hard up for geniuses you have to ask a former criminal to…
Nah nevermind, that sounds about like the norm for Team Flash. Still, Marlize at least vows to try and help humanity this time with her technology, instead of deciding how they’re not smart enough to handle it. Too bad no one helped her with her Stockholm Syndrome though; she was still in love with Clifford at the end, which is insane.  He clearly didn’t care about her; when Marlize was telling them to go where DeVoe’s good side, she’s like “Try our house, try the place where we first met”, etc…  Instead they found it where DeVoe was most comfortable: the classroom, where he could give condescending speeches about how smart he was to students annually.
I definitely preferred when we had a husband and wife villain couple, but let’s be honest: he never loved her. Evidence is everywhere.

5. Welp, let’s talk about the last few dangling plotlines for next season. The smallest one is Wally returning at the end to see his baby sister–he’s been hanging out with the Legends and avoiding being in Barry’s shadow. Supposedly he’s found his confidence there, but it’s up in the air if he’ll be back on Team Flash next year.
The next one is Caitlin’s powers. They were a mystery last season, and now they’re a bigger mystery this season, because she apparently got them before the accident that powered everyone else. Look forward to this being written off easily within episode three of season five.
Next is Cecile’s kid and her powers. She randomly got telepathy, and it’s just as randomly leaving…but while having contractions, she spoke in a strange voice everyone ignores afterwards, and I’m not sure it’s ever confirmed this was DeVoe. If not, presumably this matters next season?
Finally: we meet the young lady who’s been having awkward run-ins with the team since midway through the season: she’s Nora West-Allen, the daughter of Iris and Barry. She helped Barry save the world earlier, which definitely has implications going forward since Speedsters seemingly can’t change time without wrecking things.
That’s a lot to handle for season five…and hopefully they actually deal with it properly instead of ignoring it for new stories next season. They need to finish their plate.
Overall: This season had a lot of frustrating moments.  Season 3 was kind of a pain because Savitar’s identity never made any sense, but this isn’t all that much better. Arguably, the lows are lower…but then the highs are higher–this season started out strong. The first nine or so episodes are very good, balancing levity with the action you expect from The Flash. It went off the rails however when Barry had his prison arc, and aside from cute episodes like “Enter Flashtime” and “Run, Iris, Run” it never recovered until the end.
It’s not as bad as Arrow got in its season four (primarily because it doesn’t have its own “Felicity”), and their finales are worlds apart when it comes to overall quality, but when compared to something like Black Lightning Season One, it’s hard not to see this come up short.  Nevertheless, the ending was strong enough to bring me back for season five…so I guess they succeeded.
The Flash airs on CW and is available streaming on Netflix.

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